Half Square Triangles (HST) Easy 2,4 & 8 Patch Units

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Half square triangles? This sounds like a bit of a contradiction in terms, but actually, if you think about it, a square, cut in half diagonally, creates two triangles. It is far easier to create triangles for quilting in this manner than to cut triangles separately and then sew them together. The actual stitching is also simpler this way than sewing separate triangles together along an unstable, stretchy, bias-cut edge.

Half Square TrianglesPinHalf Square Triangles

Contents

Half Square Triangles TutorialHalf Square Triangles – Supplies How to Make Half Square Triangles – Step by Step InstructionsMethod #1 – Basic Method {2 Half Square Triangle Units}2 Patch SizingWhat Size Do you Cut Half Square Triangles?2 Patch Sewing InstructionsMethod # 2 – Quick 4 Patch Triangle Blocks4 Patch SizingHow Do You Cut 4 Half Square TrianglesHow Do You Make 4 Half Square Triangles at a Time?METHOD #3 – Quick 8 PATCH8 Patch SizingHow Do you Make 8 Half Square Triangles at a Time?Half Square Triangle FAQsWhat is The Best Half Square Triangle Method?What Completed Blocks Can I Make With my HST?Half Square Triangles – In ConclusionWhat About Half Rectangle TrianglesMore Quilting Articles Quilting BlocksQuilt Block Shapes

Half Square Triangles Tutorial

Half square triangles are typically abbreviated to HST in most quilting patterns. They can be made in any size to suit the patchwork masterpiece you are creating.

Half square triangles can form a basis for many varied quilt blocks and are extremely versatile. They are one of the most popular units used in patchwork. They are also a great way to contrast two fabrics. Fabrics can be contrasted with patterns in a similar color, or be completely different colors.

If you are new to quilting, read my article on quilting for beginners for a great overview to this fantastic hobby.

Half Square Triangles – Supplies

FABRIC – Quilting fabric and tightly woven cotton fabrics are best for making your half square triangles. You can use some of your scraps to make a quilt or purchase pre-cut bundles of layer cakes or charm squares. Fat quarters are also a good way to purchase fabric and maximize the number of patterns in your quilt. For quilting, choose smaller patterns so you can not cutting into the designs. THREAD – Strong thread suitable for quilting.PRESSER FOOT – You can use your all-purpose sewing foot and mark the stitching lines or use a foot with a ¼ inch guide. A walking foot is also useful for eliminating puckers. QUILTING RULER, MAT & ROTARY CUTTER – Accurate cutting is essential for great results and a quilt that has matching seams. MARKING TOOLS – Tailor`s chalk or pencil to mark the sewing lines. PRESSING TOOLS – Ironing board and iron

How to Make Half Square Triangles – Step by Step Instructions

Here are 3 methods of making half square triangles. They vary in the amount of squares you end up with.

Half Square Triangle Methods:

Method #1 – 2 patchesMethod #2 – 4 patchesMethod #3 – 8 patches

Method #1 – Basic Method {2 Half Square Triangle Units}

This basic method is the traditional method and produces the best quality half square triangles. It is however the slowest method which may not be ideal if you are making a large quilt.

PROS – Accurate and good qualityCONS – SlowHalf Square Triangles - 2 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 2 PatchPin2 Patch Half Square Triangles

2 Patch Sizing

Now of course you want to work out what size squares to start with, to end up with the correct size pieced square for your final block.

Formula

To do this you need to determine what size your finished square needs to be, then add ⅞ inch (2.2cm) to your original square for seam allowances.

So if you want a 3 inch (7.6 cm) square in your final block, your original squares must be 3 ⅞ inches (9.4cm). On occasions, it may be easier to just add a full inch (2.5 cm) and trim your blocks down when squaring them up.

What Size Do you Cut Half Square Triangles?

Here are some common half square triangles and the measurements for the square you need to start with.

HST FINISHED SIZE CUT SQUARES SIZE
1″ (2.5cm) 1 ⅞”
1 ½” (4cm) 2 ⅜”
2″ (5cm) 2 ⅞”
2 ½” (6.3cm) 3 ⅜”
3″ (7.6cm) 3 ⅞”
3 ½” (8.9cm) 4 ⅜”
4″ (10cm) 4 ⅞”
4 ½” (11.4cm) 5 ⅜”
5″ (12.7cm) 5 ⅞”
5 ½” (14cm) 6 ⅜”
6″ (15.2cm) 6 ⅞”

2 PatchHalf Square Triangles Chart

2 Patch Sewing Instructions

Step 1 – Cut out Squares

First, measure out and cut out your squares. A rotary cutter is ideal for this.  Don’t forget to include your seam allowances!

Step 2 – Mark the Diagonal Seams

Draw a diagonal line on the back of one of your squares. Use a marker that won`t bleed into your fabric and can easily be removed. 

Place your two contrasting fabric squares right sides together. Be precise when matching up your squares.

Step 3 – Stitch

Pin your squares together, then sew a ¼ inch (6mm) seam on either side of your diagonal line. You can draw stitching lines for yourself, or simply use your sewing machine foot as a guide.

STITCHINGTIPS: Use a small stitch length of 1.5 so you don`t have to backstitch at the ends. This has the advantage of reducing bulk. This method is ideal for string piecing, where you prepare quite a number of squares in advance, and then sew along your diagonals one after the other without cutting the thread between pieces. This saves a lot of time. Be sure to remember to stitch on both sides of your diagonal line.

Half Square Triangles - 2 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 2 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 2 Patch

Step 4 – Cut the Diagonal

Cut along your diagonal line, open out, and you will have two half square triangles.

Half Square Triangles - 2 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 2 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 2 Patch

Step 5 – Press

Press these new squares you have created, and square them off neatly to make sure your seams match up perfectly when you are putting your final block together.

PRESSING TIPS

When pressing, don’t move your iron along the fabric, as this can distort your bias edges. Just place your hot iron on top of your seam lines. Don’t be tempted to skip the pressing and squaring off, you will be glad you took this extra time later!If you are using a light and a dark fabric, press your seam towards the darker fabric side so that it doesn’t show when you turn your block over to the right side. 

Step 6 – Trim

After pressing, your squares will need a trim.

When you open them up, you will find little dog ears from your seam allowances. Trim these neatly as well as checking that the final size is accurate.

Half Square Triangles - 2 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 2 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 2 Patch

Method # 2 – Quick 4 Patch Triangle Blocks

This method will give you 4 patches of half square triangles at once. You will need to use slightly larger squares to start off with so your final patches don`t end up too small.

PROS – Faster for making large quantitiesCONS – Once you cut through the stitching there is a chance that the stitching will unravel. This can be partly solved by using small stitch lengths. Also due to rounding in the formula, you will need to cut down the final squares slightly. Half Square Triangles - 4 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 4 PatchPin4 Patch Half Square Triangles

4 Patch Sizing

Here are some common half-square triangles resulting in 4 patches and the measurements for the squares you need to start with. There is a small amount of rounding in these calculations so check your finished sizes and trim accurately at the end.

Formula

Cut Square = Finished Size / 0.64

How Do You Cut 4 Half Square Triangles

Here are the measurements to cut 4 half square triangles:

HST FINISHED SIZE CUT SQUARE SIZE
1″ (2.5cm) 1 ⅝”
1 ½” (4cm) 2 ⅜”
2″ (5cm) 3 ⅛”
2 ½” (6.3cm) 4″
3″ (7.6cm) 4 ¾”
3 ½” (8.9cm) 5 ½”
4″ (10cm) 6 ¼”
4 ½” (11.4cm) 7″
5″ (12.7cm) 7 ⅞”
5 ½” (14cm) 8 ⅝”
6″ (15.2cm) 9 ⅜”

4 PatchHalf Square Triangles Chart

How Do You Make 4 Half Square Triangles at a Time?

Step 1 – Cut out Squares

Cut 2 squares using the formula or chart above.

Step 2 – Mark the Diagonal

Draw diagonal cross lines on the back of one of your squares. Use a marker that won`t bleed into your fabric and can easily be removed. 

Place your two contrasting fabric squares right sides together. Be precise when matching up the edges of your squares.

Step 3 – Stitch

Pin your squares together, then sew a ¼ inch (6mm) seam all the way around the outside of the square. Use a small stitch length since you will need to cut through the stitching and you don`t want it to unravel.

Half Square Triangles - 4 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 4 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 4 Patch

Step 4 – Cut the Diagonal

Cut along your diagonal lines, open out, and you will have four half square triangles.

Half Square Triangles - 4 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 4 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 4 Patch

Step 5 – Press and Trim

Press these new squares you have created, and square them off neatly to make sure your seams match up perfectly when you are putting your final block together.

Half Square Triangles - 4 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 4 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 4 Patch

METHOD #3 – Quick 8 PATCH

If you are piecing together a large quilt, there is an even faster way to make these half square triangles. The problem is, what you gain in speed you lose in bias stability and more complex size calculations! With this method, you can create eight half-square triangle blocks at a time.  For those who want to give it a go, here is the method:

PROS – By far the fastest methodCONS – Lots of cutting and measuring is needed. You will need to trim the final squares due to rounding in the formula.8 Patch Half Square Triangles8 Patch Half Square TrianglesPin8 Patch Half Square Triangles

8 Patch Sizing

When sizing your squares for this method use the formula or follow the table below.

Formula

Cutting Size =  (finished half square triangle + ⅞ inch) x 2

HST FINISHED BLOCK CUTTING SIZE
1” 3.75”
2” 5.75”
3” 7.75”
4” 9.75”
5” 11.75”
6” 13.75”
7” 15.75”
8” 17.75”
9” 19,75”
10” 21.75”

8 Patch Half Square Triangles Chart

How Do you Make 8 Half Square Triangles at a Time?

Step 1 – Cut Squares

Place two equal size squares of fabric right sides together. Remember that you will be need large squares here, as each one will be cut into eight pieces.

Mark your square on the diagonals and through the center, as shown in the picture below.

Step 2 – Sew the Diagonals

Sew your ¼ inch (6mmm) seam on both sides of the diagonal lines, all the way across the square.

Half Square Triangles - 8 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 8 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 8 Patch

Step 3 – Cut on the Diagonal, Up and Down

Cut the square into eighths along each of the marked lines.

Half Square Triangles - 8 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 8 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 8 Patch

Step 4 – Press and Trim

Continue as before for trimming and pressing when making the single square units.

Half Square Triangles - 8 PatchHalf Square Triangles - 8 PatchPinHalf Square Triangles – 8 Patch

Half Square Triangle FAQs

What is The Best Half Square Triangle Method?

The best method will depend on how many half square triangles you will need and whether it will be a problem to have bias cut edges. Using the basic method where you get 2 HSTs at a time will give the best results but is much slower than making 4 or 8 at a time.

What Completed Blocks Can I Make With my HST?

You can see from all these examples what a very versatile little block this is. If you add in a few solid squares, you can create even more blocks.

Here are just some of the most popular blocks that use half square triangles.

Diamond shapesNegative image diamondsZigzagDiagonal stripesTrapezoid shapesFlying geeseBroken dishesPinwheels

Half Square Triangle PatternsHalf Square Triangle PatternsPinHalf Square Triangles Patterns

Half Square Triangles – In Conclusion

Once you have completed all your quilt blocks you can decide what your finished object is going to be. Will you make a teeny little mug rug? Or something in between like cushion covers, tote bags or a table runner? Or will you go all out and create a full-blown quilt?

You can coordinate your fabrics to fit in with your décor, or create a wonderful gift with a friend or family member’s favorite colors. The choice is yours! There are endless possibilities with these half square triangles! Enjoy experimenting with this handy quilt block.

What About Half Rectangle Triangles

Half rectangle triangles are another common quilting block shape. Because they are not symmetrical they need a slightly different method than the HSTs. Read more about how to sew a HRT.

Half Triangle RectanglesHalf Triangle RectanglesPinHalf Triangle Rectangles

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